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Orban’s “solidarity” with Kazakh leader sparks sharp rebuke in Czech Republic

Putin-Tokayev

Prague, Czech Republic – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s public support for embattled Kazakh President Tokayev was slammed by one of its traditionally closest European allies.

In a statement released at the height of the unrest in the Central Asian country, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said the Hungarian government stood in support with Kazakh authorities, dismissing concerns about human rights abuses and state-mandated violence against protesters especially after Russian-led troops arrived to quell the unrest.

“Destabilisation efforts or coups are completely opposed to Hungary’s security interests,” Szijjarto said, echoing the rhetoric of the Kremlin and its Kazak ally claiming the civil unrest was orchestrated by foreign terrorists trying to spark a “colour revolution” at Russia’s doorstep.

“Hungary supports efforts to restore peace and order in central Asia, specifically Kazakhstan”, Szijjarto said.

“Prime Minister [Viktor Orban] talked with [Kazakh] President Tokayev and expressed his solidarity and condolences over the many, many casualties and we have offered, of course, our help,” he added in a video published on Facebook.

Lambasting Budapest’s support for the Kazakh leadership, many have drawn parallels between the situation in Kazakhstan and Russian involvement with the crushing of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 by Soviet troops, as well as the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia.

A number of Czech politicians have slammed the Hungarian government’s position, which puts Orban at odds with the rest of the EU, and expressed their concern at the violent crackdown.

“Viktor Orban de-facto endorsed the shooting of people of Kazakhstan and the arrival of the Russian army today,” said Marketa Pekarova Adamova, the speaker of the Czech lower house of Parliament.

A few days earlier, Ms. Adamova had openly called on Hungarians to “drive out of office” Prime Minister Orban in the upcoming April elections. While the latter statement wasn’t backed by members of the new coalition government or Prime Minister Petr Fiala, the former appeared to receive the support of Prague’s top diplomat.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky took to Twitter shortly after, writing that “a president who issues an order to shoot civilians without any warning needs no solidarity” in a clear reference to Tokayev’s “shoot to kill without warning” order and to Orban’s support.

“Our solidarity belongs to the people of Kazakhstan”, Lipavsky said.

Over 150 people have reportedly been killed, and up to 6,000 more arrested following the riots across the country.